Detroit Pension Chair Calls for Firing of Lawyer Employed During Bribery Scandal

Detroit

The Chairman of the Detroit Police & Fire pension fund is calling for the termination of the fund’s general counsel. That’s because the lawyer was employed at the fund during the bribery and pay-to-play scandal that cost the fund millions.

The general counsel, Joseph Turner, was not charged with any crimes. But the trustees have said publicly that they don’t trust him and want a clean break from the years of bribery that have plagued the fund.

From the Detroit News:

A powerful lawyer who factored into the Detroit pension fund bribery scandal and continues to wield influence over the Police & Fire retirement system could soon be out of a job.

Critics of the retirement system’s general counsel, Joseph Turner, say his continued involvement in the pension board raises questions about the city’s ability to move past a history of corruption, mismanagement and bad investments that helped push Detroit into bankruptcy.

Detroit Police & Fire pension fund Chairman Mark Diaz said he is prepared to ask board members to fire Turner and his law firm Clark Hill PLC, now that a corruption trial has ended in six convictions and Detroit has emerged from bankruptcy.

The pension board’s next meeting is Thursday.

Here’s what trustees have said of Turner, from Detroit News:

“Very simply: we don’t have confidence in him,” [Chairman] Diaz told The News Wednesday. “This is a multi-billion-dollar corporation and we cannot have the air of impropriety whatsoever.”

Fellow Trustee Georze Orzech was blunt when asked about Turner.

“He’s got to go,” Orzech said. “I don’t trust him.”

According to Detroit News, in 2007 Turner gave thousands of dollars of “birthday money” to various trustees. Soon after, the trustees voted to raise Turner’s pay from $225 to $300 an hour.

 

Photo credit: “DavidStottsitsamongDetroittowers” by Mikerussell – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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